Rainer Maria Rilke

"Live a while in these books, learn from them what seems to you worth learning, but above all love them. This love will be repaid you a thousand and a thousand times, and however your life may turn,-it will, I am certain of it, run through the fabric of your growth as one of the most important threads among all the threads of your experiences, disappointments, and joys."--Rainer Maia Rilke

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Friday, May 25, 2012

My favorite Series Keeps Getting Better

Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel:  The Necromancer by Michael Scott
(Mythology, Fantasy, Thriller)

Of all my favorite book series, this one is in the top 5.  Make that the top 3 and climbing to the pinnacle. 

The Necromancer is the 4th in the series and they must be read in order.  In this installment (only one week after the last book ended!), Josh and Sophie Newman go home only to be kidnapped (again) by an ancient vampire who happens to be the twin of their best friend.  Since she has disappeared, they grudgingly join forces to find her.  Both Josh and Sophie are one step closer to realizing their full magical potential and thereby either saving or destroying the world.

All the main and beloved characters are back but this book shows them in a much more multi-faceted way and it's often hard to tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys.

What I love about these books is all the mythology--Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Sumerian.  You name a culture--the myth is in this book, come to life.  Some of the stories are known to me but many characters are unknown.  I find myself constantly racing to the computer to read more and then am delighted by the clever way Scott incorporates them into the novel.  And, the marriage of famous historical figures and fantasy is nothing short of genius. 

You literally never know what's going to happen when you turn every page of this book and I already have either bought the next ones in the series or have pre-paid for their release.  I don't so much read these books as inhale them as soon as they come out.  They are meant to be devoured deliciously!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Title Was More Terrifying Than the Book

Close To Shore:  The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916 by Michael Capuzo
(Historical Thriller)

This book focuses on the summer of 1916 when a rogue shark swam into the New England states, snuck up into a New Jersey river and killed several people.  A fascinating topic and one that I haven't read about in book form before.

The background information in this book is very lengthy but vital for understanding the mind frame of early 20th centurions.  The book was written in a very interesting way and had a variety of perspectives, even taking on the point of view of the shark in a  few instances.  Taut energy fills the pages and you literally never know when the shark will attack.  Every page reads just like a slow leisurely swim while underneath lurks action and excitement, popping up and surprising the reader every few minutes.  Most of the description is chilling and graphic but most unbelievable are the beliefs and science theories of that time period--almost as strange as the rogue shark itself!

While some parts did drag and it was a bit hard to concentrate, it is a comprehensive look at a thrilling, and chilling, American historical summer.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Another Powerful Installment

The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer
(Dystopian Fiction--teens and up)

This second installment in The Last Survivors isn't exactly a sequel to the first book.  There are new characters but they too are dealing with the end of their world and society.

Alex lives in New York City with his large Puerto Rican family in a small apartment.  He isn't a typical teen but is fiercely competitive and focused and getting ready for college and life.  He has his entire future all mapped out when the event occurs.  Now, he finds himself responsible for his two younger sisters (people he barely knows or likes) when the world goes mad.  All his plans evaporate almost overnight and his main task becomes survival, something his New York City upbringing and advanced high school classes didn't prepare him for.

I didn't like this one quite as good as the first one.  I didn't feel a real connection to Alex like I did to the main character in the first book of this series.  His speech and thoughts were short and clipped, I suppose the result of the language issues or just the fact that he was a 17-year old boy.  I found it slowed me down a little as I was reading, kind of like walking through mud.

And yet, I still really liked the book.  The horrors the author portrays are so unimaginable and yet ring absolutely true.  These scenarios are most certainly what would happen in such a catastrophe.  When I pictured myself as the main character, it was a chilling perspective.  I already have the third and final book sitting on my shelf and can hardly wait to finish the story--it will be interesting to see how the author ties these two completely different stories together.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Not Deep Enough

Deep Storm by Lincoln Child
(Thriller, Sci-Fi)

I admit to being captured by this book before I even started reading it.  Any hint of 'Atlantis' does that to me.  Alas, that fascination soon turned to boring doldrums and I couldn't wait to be finished with it, finally not even caring what the great mystery was.

Dr. Peter Crane is called to a highly secretive sub-oceanic research facility because of mysterious illnesses that have been reported.  What is causing the illnesses is a mystery that Dr. Crane seems ideally suited to solve.  Unfortunately, it takes him nearly the entire book to figure out what is going on, long after the reader ceases to care.  Reading that far in felt like walking uphill and it just never got any better.  This book was apparently a sequel to another book in which Dr. Crane solved the case and saved the world. 

The book is a mixture of medical, military and scientific thriller--maybe that's why I just didn't understand most of what was going on?  Perhaps you have to be in one of those careers--(I'm trying to give the book the benefit of some doubt!)

This book just wasn't as good as all the hype on the jacket cover and I felt like I'd been taken.  It was my first and last experience with this author.  The ending was by far the best part.  It was a horrifying and thrilling conclusion-I just wish it had come sooner in the page count!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Living Death

Play Dead by Anne Frasier
(Adult Mystery)

This book takes place in Savannah and is there any more literary city in America?  To read this book made me feel the passion and heat and intensity of that Southern city almost as soon as I opened those pages.

In this cunning mystery, someone is kidnapping victims, torturing them and then dumping them, leaving them as if dead all over the city.  Except they're not quite dead.  Some of them wake up in the morgue after the pronouncement of death and officials soon realize the killer is giving the victims TTX, a poison that makes the victim appear as if dead while they can still see, hear and feel everything going on-a living death.

Heading up the investigation is Elise, a police detective, who was abandoned in a Savannah cemetery as a baby.  Local gossip suggests she is the illegitimate daughter of the "Voodoo King" and her 'devil eyes' seems to confirm the rumors.  While she is trying to come to grips with her past and this new killer, she is increasingly frustrated at the alienation of her own daughter.

On top of all that, she's also been saddled with an ex-FBI agent as her new partner.  David Gould moved to Savannah for a fresh start after a family tragedy but he is still haunted and grieving, just moments away from a breakdown.  It's up to this ill-matched duo to solve the crime of the city's century while everyone around them is just waiting for their inevitable failure.

I loved everything about this novel--the setting, the varied and interesting characters and a mystery that kept me guessing right up until the end which still managed to surprise me.  I love to discover new authors and Anne Frasier is now on my short list of 'to reads'!

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Sweet Life

Paris, My Sweet:  A Year in the City of Light (And Dark Chocolate) by Amy Thomas
(Adult Foodie Memoir)

I am one of those who love the foodie books--for me, food isn't something that you merely used for fuel.   Food tells a story and this book fits right in with that philosophy.

This is the story of a young woman who gets the opportunity to live in Paris and work.  While there, she indulges in all the glory that Paris dessert cafes have to offer.

One must be a serious foodie for this book, though.  Casual dessert eaters need not apply.  Even those I consider myself a 'foodie', there were many references in the book that were just over my head--too many for me to even try and research so I just skipped over those parts and stuck with the story.  Ultimately, though, that was unsatisfying.  I found much of the book to be just out of my range.  The descriptions weren't enough to make it seem real or appealing to me.  The descriptions of Paris didn't help the story along or the story line at all.  I think one would have to be very familiar with Paris to understand all the references. 

I also found the narrator to be whiny and her big problem of New York Vs. Paris seemed trivial and superficial.  Overall, there just wasn't enough meat here for a memoir although the author does have a very skillful way with words......and eating.......unfortunately, this book just fell short of blending those two loves together in a way that was appetizing for the reader.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Reads Like a Memoir

Raising Jake by Charlie Carillo
(Adult Fiction)

This is not a memoir!  I had to keep repeating this to myself the whole book through because it reads just like the truth.  It rang of true-ness in every word.  I am convinced that these people exist somewhere--they are just too REAL to be made up!

This book is told over one weekend and discusses how a father and son reflect on their current life situation and how it (their lives) needs to change.  The title is so ironic because the main character really hasn't 'raised' his son Jake--he has largely been a weekend parent but does what no mother can do--transition a son into manhood.

Normally, this isn't the kind of book that I like and it doesn't seem to be about much of anything--just kind of a rambling tale.  But I loved it!  At turns, it was funny, sweet, heart-breaking and even gross.  A great read from an author I plan to check out more!